DALLAS -- Mold, bedbugs, rats, and sweltering heat are just a few of the complaints being lodged at Dallas City Hall Monday by apartment dwellers tired of the neglect.

While city codes are supposed to prohibit such deplorable conditions, renters all across the city say those ordinances are not working.

Inside many of their apartments, you can find rot and mold causing renters to become sick. Getting landlords to do anything about it can be tough.

"No family should ever have to live under the conditions that we saw in Bachman Lake,” said Dr. Barry Lachman, the President of the Asthma Coalition of Texas.

Dr. Barry Lachman
Dr. Barry Lachman

He says these kinds of conditions are just a fraction of the problems low-income renters face.

"I was appalled. Appalled by the conditions that I saw in all of the apartments I visited last November,” Lachman said. “I saw raw sewage coming up through drains. Ceilings sagging. Walls collapsing due to leaks.”

Lachman spoke Monday at a press conference held at Dallas City Hall. He is working with the group Dallas Area Interfaith to petition the Dallas City Council to make changes in a city housing standards law that some say has as many holes in it as the walls in the run down residences being discussed.

Mold on the walls of a Dallas apartment.
Mold on the walls of a Dallas apartment.

"The landlords can pay their fine and go on doing what they have been doing,” said Bruce Harris of Dallas Area Interfaith. “But paying a small fine doesn't help the tenants in any form or fashion."

What may help is if city councilmembers adopt a new set of proposals to help keep landlords in line.

Among the proposals now being considered:

  • Mandating 10,000 rental home inspections per year
  • Increase the number of inspectors
  • Adopt new standards addressing mold, bedbugs, and climate control
  • Increase the fines for repeat offenders

The proposed new standards have the blessing of Mayor Mike Rawlings who has made cleaning up blighted areas of town one of his major priorities.

The ceiling in an apartment in Dallas.
The ceiling in an apartment in Dallas.

Committee members sent the proposals back to staff for revisions on Monday. They will vote again in a few weeks on whether to forward the proposal to full city council.

That is expected to happen, and most of the proposals will be adopted and become city code.